By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

It is undoubtedly one of the boldest-appearing midsize sedans today. After all, it replaced another sharp-looking car, Optima, that is now in the history books. The midsize K5 is not just an eye-pleaser but comes with a robust power train, solid chassis and desirable creature comforts.

Bigger than its predecessor in almost every respect (except height), under the hood of the K5 sits a 1.6-liter turbo gas inline-4 cylinder engine that produces a decent 180 horsepower @ 5500 rpm and 195 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. Power reaches the front wheels via a crisp-shifting and accurate 8-speed automatic transmission.

Ensconced on the steel-unibody based car is a wide and thin front silver-metallic radiator grille that extends into its LED headlights and the hood. The cabin offers such helpful amenities as a 10-way power heated/cooled driver and 6-way manual passenger leatherette seats, 60/40 rear seat, manual tilt/telescopic steering column, panoramic sun roof, dual auto a/c with rear vents, push-button start, 4.2-inch LCD instrument display, power windows, door locks and outside mirrors. The previous 8-inch touch screen for infotainment has been replaced by a bigger 10.25-inch display. Satin chrome accents on the center console garnish, dash pad bezel and air vents convey elegance. Trunk volume is commendable at 16 cubic feet (compare that to the Camry at 15.1).

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction control systems, forward and blind-spot collision avoidance assists, as well as lane-keep and lane-follow assists, rearview camera, front and rear crumple zones, side-impact door beams, three-point front seatbelts with pretensioners, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

The affordably priced K5 turbo exhibits admirable performance with lovely styling inside and out. And with gas prices hovering around $5 a gallon, this one’s a tremendous money saver with fuel economy at over 35 mpg in combined driving during our drive. Undoubtedly, it’s an impeccably tuned ride for the daily grind.

K5 (EX)

Tires: 236/45R18

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Length: 193.1 inches

Width: 73.2 inches

Height: 56.9 inches

Suspension: MacPherson front, multilink rear

Steering: rack-and-pinion power

Weight: 3,228 pounds

Fuel capacity: 15.8 gallons

City: 27 mpg

Highway: 37 mpg

Base price: $28,590

Price as tested: $33,785

Web site: www.kiausa.com